Here are some of my life hacks, acquired from 17 years of living here:
Get an e-bike. They’re cheap (RMB 2500-3000 for a perfectly good one, a fair bit more if you buy the lithium ion battery but I do think it’s worth it, if for no other reason than it’s light and you can carry it up to your digs to charge without fear that it’ll get swiped), cost virtually nothing to charge up (a fraction of a kilowatt hour), and they let you avoid the maddening traffic of the bigger cities. They pay for themselves in virtually no time. Get the attached fur-lined glove thingies for the winter, a pair of serviceable chaps to keep your legs warm, and wear a helmet.
Also get a bicycle. Chinese cities are a bit too big to explore entirely on foot, and riding around in subways/buses/taxis you miss all the wonderful street-level detail. A bike’s a great compromise. A wise man once said of China, “Every day, you see something you don’t see everyday.” Make sure you keep your eyes open.